Every once in a while a friend will reach out to me about having a custom print made. Typically, the request is for a concert poster of a specific show that they went to and would like a momento type piece created. These end up being fun little projects because they are one-off prints and allow me to experiment with new design ideas.
Two of my recent requests were for a Grateful Dead show at Deer Creek in Noblesville, Indiana and a classic Pearl Jam show at the Gorge in Washington. My first step when approached with a request like this is to ask for any specific elements from the show or location that they would like to include in the design. From there I usually look at other concert posters from the particular band as well as from that particular show to try and capture something different and unique. For the final step of the initial concepting process, I look for inspiration to generate ideas to build the overall design around.
The Grateful Dead print I completed for my friend Doug pulls heavily from his experience at the show. He told me that crowd ended up breaking down the security fence and rushing the stage. Police were called in and tear gas was used to disperse the crowd.
I imagined the many lights of the stage reflecting through the tear gas creating little umbrella's of color. This effect was achieved directly in Illustrator by creating shapes of bright colors, overlapping them, and then changing the Transparency of each shape to Screen. It took a little bit of time to arrange the colors in such a way that they didn't repeat very often and the areas where they overlapped looked nice.
The lighting bolt skull is very recognizable Grateful Dead design to fans, and I thought that it helped identify who this poster was meant to represent. The identifying logo that shows the show date, location, and band's name just below the fence was inspired by a 50's milk bottle top that I came across on Flickr in a vintage illustration gallery. I modified it to fit my design and account for the band's name.
I have had a lot of good luck with black on Epson Fine Art Velvet, so I decided to use it as the background color. It also helped to really make the colors pop off the paper. I will say that Epson Fine Art Velvet on an Inkjet creates one of the richest blacks I have ever seen. It is just gorgeous and I highly recommend it if your doing your own printing.
The overall design stayed pretty minimal. A style I hadn't worked in for quite a while as I have been working on more detailed oriented projects. I think in an abstract way it really captured that particular concert and the events that happened. Doug said he loved the final result and that it was beyond anything he could have imagined to depict what happened at the show.
The Pearl Jam print I did for my friend Leah is a little more straight forward. It primarily focuses on the legendary Gorge venue in Washington State. She told me about how beautful the location was and I knew that I wanted to capture some of the venues beauty in my design. I looked at a lot of references of the Gorge Amphitheatre and focused the design on unique shape of the stage and how it overlooks the gorge.
My color choices of blue and orange as well as the other design elements that I included were all inspired by a 50's ad for oranges. Again, something I found on Flickr. I made a last minute decision to add the show's play list to the design in order to break up some of the orange and to bring in more of that feel that this is a momento of that show.
The last thing I did to the design was add a little bit of texturing to the entire layout in Photoshop. This helped to really allow the orange and blue to pop and when printed added some nice smaller details. Again, I used Epson Fine Art Velvet and the colors and texturing were perfect.
I had a lot of fun working on these single prints that really are fan art for the fans. In this case, the fans happen to know someone that loves to design so both parties come away pretty pleased.